SBD/October 22, 2012/Facilities

Columnist Examines Mets, MLS, USTA Projects At Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration is "attempting to push through three major projects" at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park proposed by the Mets, MLS and the USTA that "would permanently seize nearly 75 acres of public parkland for commercial projects that will also have enormous additional impacts on the surrounding communities," according to Geoffrey Croft of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Bloomberg's "preferred developer the Related Companies in partnership with Sterling Equities, the real estate firm controlled by the owner of the Mets, have plans to build a 1.4 million-square-foot mall and parking garage." The majority of the land for the $3B Willets Point project "would be taken from parkland adjacent to Citi Field currently used for parking." MLS is "pushing to build a 35,000-seat professional soccer stadium on up to 13 acres." The league's $300M plan "calls for filling in the former Pool of Industry from the 1964 World’s Fair." Unlike the Willets Point deal, the city is "requiring MLS to replace park land." But replacement park facilities "would not provide the same usefulness, location or value." Meanwhile, the USTA as part of a $500M expansion "plans to build a 15,000-seat stadium and an 8,000-seat stadium, as well as two parking garages adding 500 spaces." The N.Y. Economic Development Corp. is "also irresponsibly attempting to push this massive project through without conducting a full environmental review of all three projects, needed to assess the cumulative impact" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/22).

IN THE STUDIO: MLS Commissioner Don Garber sat down with SBD/SBJ Executive Editor Abraham Madkour and talked about the league’s plans for a second team in N.Y. and the challenges of placing a team in Queens.
NO PARKING: In N.Y., Ken Belson reports Bronx Parking Development Co., which runs the parking lots around Yankee Stadium, has "defaulted on nearly $240 million of its bonds because of overambitious forecasts and less expensive transportation alternatives for fans." If new revenue is not found and costs are not cut "in the coming months, the company could go bankrupt even though the city provided more than $200 million in subsidies, some of which were used to replace parkland where parking lots now stand." The company's next debt payment is "due in April." The parking lots this year have been 43% full "on average during games and other events at Yankee Stadium," down from 46% last year (N.Y. TIMES, 10/22). 
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